Tommy Pham and Hunter Renfroe Swap Coasts

It’s only the beginning of December and we’ve already seen a number of interesting trades. And Mike Moustakas has already signed a contract! What an offseason so far. On Friday, the Rays and Padres agreed to a trade, which included Tommy Pham moving to the latter and Hunter Renfroe to the former. Let’s take a look at the park factors to figure out how the moves might affect their production.

Since we don’t have the 2019 park factors up yet, we’ll use 2018.

Park Factor Comparison
Park 1B as R 2B as R 3B as R HR as R SO BB GB FB LD IFFB Basic
Petco Park (Padres) 98 97 101 97 100 102 101 98 102 98 97
Tropicana Field (Rays) 98 93 94 94 103 100 97 99 99 105 96

The two parks are identical in their singles suppression affect. Pham has relied on a high BABIP, though it tumbled last season to a career low (still above league average though), while Renfroe has been the complete opposite by consistently posting extremely low BABIP marks. The park switch is unlikely to have any effect on those marks.

Petco was more favorable for both doubles and triples. For the former, it was a bit less suppressive, while for the latter hit type, it actually provided a boost. Tropicana suppressed both hit types. This could be a slight positive for Pham’s ISO, but Renfroe hit so few doubles and just one triple a year as it is, so he’s not going to suffer much a decline in his doubles or triples rates I’m guessing.

Home run factors are very important in fantasy circles, but both parks suppress them. However, Tropicana is even more difficult than Petco to hit the long ball in as a right-handed batter. The two sport career HR/FB rates just above 20%, so this is good news for Pham to move to a slightly better home run park, but bad news for Renfroe. This is especially bad for Renfroe given that he’s essentially a one-dimensional hitter, so putting a dent in that one dimension is going to really take a bite out of his real baseball and fantasy value.

While the differences aren’t huge, Petco was neutral for strikeout, while Tropicana was slightly boosting of them, with the opposite effects occurring for walk rate. Renfroe strikes out a lot, while only just this season did he get his walk rate up to above the league average. So any negative change in park effects for these two metrics is problematic.

For batted ball type distribution effects, Petco was slightly favorable for line drives, while also suppressing pop-ups. This compares to Tropicana’s slightly suppressing effect on liners and inflating effect on pop-ups. Once again, Petco comes out more hitter friendly. Pham has always been pretty good in these batted ball types, posting better than average line drive rates and fewer pop-ups, while Renfroe has been weak at both, posting low line drive rates and lots of pop-ups. Once again, the park switch exacerbates Renfroe’s issues.

Finally, we find that Petco is slightly less pitcher friendly than Tropicana overall. But remember, that’s an overall rate, and not just for righties. Given the comparison in right-handed hit type factors, you would expect the overall right-handed park factor to tilt more toward Petco.

It’s clear that this move is a slight positive for Pham and a negative for Renfroe, at least strictly from a park factor perspective. I also worry than on a team not afraid to use lots of platoons, Renfroe’s playing time is at much greater risk. He posted just a .304 wOBA against right-handers this year, versus a .364 mark against lefties. Over his entire career, his splits are quite similar. The one positive that could keep him in the lineup is he was excellent defensively in right field this season. Previously, though, he wasn’t, having consistently posted negative UZR marks. So this could have been a one season fluke. Bottom line is that I’m still happy to roster Pham, but Renfroe’s price has to decrease because of the move.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Mateo Sanbovalmember
2 years ago

This is very informative. I had presumed essentially the exact opposite. Thanks for setting me straight.